Show Your Work: Super Spy: The Lost Dossiers

Posted by on June 7th, 2010 at 5:22 AM

Rob reviews the new book of supplementary material from Matt Kindt’s book SUPER SPY, titled THE LOST DOSSIERS (Top Shelf).

Matt Kindt isn’t mentioned along with a lot of other alternative artists who do variations on genre work, perhaps because most of those artists tend to do fantasy or horror work (like Kaz Strzepek, Brian Ralph, Brian Chippendale, etc.)  Kindt tends to focus on spy intrigues and old-fashioned murder mysteries.  The one artist whom Kindt reminds me the most, oddly enough, is Seth.  That’s both in terms of his fascination with the aesthetics of a time long gone, and his obsessiveness in preparing an astounding variety of supplementary materials.  Like Seth with his cardboard city that he built or Chris Ware with his tiny models, so does Kindt create a fascinating array of puzzles, toys and other oddities.

While their purpose was ostensibly to act as promotional items or extras to sell at conventions, one gets the sense that he got so involved with his material that he would do it anyway.  Kindt is an interesting contradiction in that his line is wonderfully loose, moody and scratchy but his storytelling reveals a relentlessness of intricacy and even obsessiveness.  It wasn’t enough for Kindt to do SUPER SPY, a World War II spy melodrama told with a bending, out-of-order chronology.  He also had to do “The Treasure”, originally presented as a stack of small cards (each a single panel) and a map detailing how to put them together.  He had to make a working “pop gun” using the cover of the book.  He had to create a “3D” comic with the effect created by crossing one’s eyes.

I’m not sure a reader who hadn’t read SUPER SPY would get much out of THE LOST DOSSIERS.  With several pages of annotations, photo references, sketches, notes and promotional illustrations, much of the book is strictly supplementary material, albeit attractive and meticulously produced.  I especially liked comparing a finished page from SUPER SPY with his original thumbnails.  It’s interesting that while his script was in its finished state, his actual thumbnails were particularly spare.

THE LOST DOSSIERS is at its best in its first half, when it provides us with several stories that didn’t fit in with the original source material, but still had a mix of clever espionage (with clearly heavily-researched verite) and emotionally wrenching twists.  “Losing A Tail”, for example, gave a clinic on the ways in which a spy trainee managed to lose someone tailing her, interspersing it with an account of how she and her lover managed to become alienated.  “The Treasure” connected various characters with their ancestors in a clever way, showing the ways in which war & greed conspired to wreck lives in generation after generation.

One of Kindt’s secret weapons is his watercolor brush.  He’s able to swiftly establish mood with either a single tone in a story or juxtaposing colors to differentiate branches of chronology (like in “The Treasure”).  He combines a loose, cartoony (almost rubbery at times) feel to his characters while rooting his stories in an almost mundane naturalism.  This strategy allows Kindt to put ordinary people in fantastic circumstances, dictated by the surreal world of war and the lies it engenders.  THE LOST DOSSIERS is an outgrowth of  an artist so wrapped up in a subject that he felt compelled to keep coming up with ideas and get them out on paper, even after the original work was published.

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One Response to “Show Your Work: Super Spy: The Lost Dossiers

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John A. Walsh, Matt Kindt. Matt Kindt said: Nice review of Super Spy: Lost Dossiers from The Comics Journal: […]